Monday, June 2, 2014

Bucks woman to compete in world's longest horse race

Rose Sandler has trekked across a glacier and ice-climbed in Patagonia.

She's worked on a dive boat in Australia, where she spent her days scuba diving. And that happened when she wasn't working at her day job — as an aerospace engineer.

Now the Bucks County native is about to embark on her most elaborate adventure yet, one that harkens back almost 800 years to the days of Genghis Khan

She will travel to Mongolia to participate in the "the longest horse race in the world" — the Mongol Derby.

"It's not just a horse race, it's something much more," said Sandler, 32, during a visit to her family's home in Pllumstead Township.

Indeed. The 10-day, 1,000-kilometer (621-mile) race, starting Aug. 6, will traverse the steppes, mountains and rivers of Mongolia. Daytime temperatures will reach into the 90s; at night, it can dip to freezing.

There is no designated route. Sandler, an accomplished equestrian, and her 29 fellow adventurers must find their way across the route Mongol Empire founder and emperor Genghis Khan created centuries ago. Riders change horses every 25 miles, ensuring the health and "freshness" of the horse.

Like wilderness hikers, derby racers wear a sophisticated GPS so they can be located in an emergency.

"We have to use them sparingly," explained Sandler, as there's nowhere to recharge them and battery backups are considered precious.

Also, she noted, riders lose points if they signal for help and it's determined not to be a true emergency. "If I get a gash on my leg, I'll patch it up myself."

The racers each carry an 11-pound backpack.

Allowed to ride only in daylight, about 12 to 14 hours each day, the racers will spend the night in a "ger" or yurt, which is a type of shelter that's described as "more permanent than tents, but less permanent than a house."

Dinner will consist of boiled water, mutton and "airag," or fermented mare's milk.

"Most mornings I wake up so excited," she said. "Other days, I say 'What was I thinking' but then I go for a two-mile run and I feel better."

Learning his oldest daughter was accepted into the exclusive race didn't surprise Jay Sandler, who has joined her on many excursions.

"She's been my daughter for 32 years and she's always done real things, real adventures.

"At first, I was a little nonplussed, but how can you say no. She has no attachments right now, she can buzz over to Mongolia and ride wild horses," Jay Sandler said. "It's a grand adventure."

Sandler's "fearless" spirit comes as no surprise to her cousin either.

"She has a spark," said Marlyn Rothstein. "This is an amazing opportunity and it takes someone like Rose to do it."

The grueling race, created in 2001 by the British-based League of Adventurists International, raises money for the charity Cool Earth. The global project provides legal support to indigenous peoples around the world trying to gain control of land they've lived on for generations.

Sandler, who now lives in Virginia, is also raising money for a charity dear to her heart, the Central Virginia Horse Rescue. Each participant must raise $20,000 for charity to enter the race.

The prize for winning the race:

"Awesomeness and satisfaction," Sandler said.

No comments:

Post a Comment